Most of the time, veterans are not satisfied with the disability compensation they have received from the VA because the monetary amount they have received did not fully compensate for the severity of their illness or injury. This is where the VA appeals process comes into play. Once a veteran receives a rating, they have a right to appeal for an increased rating to increase their compensation. This process can surely be confusing and frustrating. Here are some ways to help a claim or appeal for an increased rating:
Obtain a medical opinion
Veterans are able to obtain a medical opinion from a physician or medical expert indicating that their symptoms are more consistent with those of a higher rating. The physician or medical expert can review a copy of the veteran’s Claims File and/or pertinent VA and private treatment records, and may be able to indicate their opinion, that based on these records, the veteran’s condition has gotten worse and warrant an increased rating.
Submitting Medical Records
Sometimes obtaining a medical opinion from a physician or medical expert can be expensive. Most disabled veterans do not have the money to pay for a medical opinion out of pocket. It can be beneficial for the veteran to review their own medical records to find the evidence that show that their condition meets the requirements for an increased raring. A veteran’s treatment records may contain evidence that a condition is more severe than the initial VA rating decision accounted for.
Obtain statements from family members and friends
The people who are close to a veteran and see them on an everyday basis are often more aware of a veteran’s condition and symptoms. It may be in the veteran’s favor to ask these people to provide a statement regarding the veteran’s worsening conditions and symptoms. This statement is know as a “lay statement” and is considered to be competent evidence. These statements are also sometimes referred to as “buddy statements”.
Submit a completed Disability Benefits Questionnaire
Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) are specific forms offered through the VA that are related to different conditions. A doctor can complete the form on behalf of the veteran by checking the boxes indicating symptoms that meet the requirement for an increased rating. These DBQ forms are available online for veterans to take to their doctors.
It is important to note that even with the above mentioned evidence submitted, the VA might still schedule an examination of their own with one of their own doctors or contracted doctors called a Compensation and Pension Examination (C&P). Sometimes these medical professionals may not be specialists in the particular field related to the veteran’s condition and may not be as informed of the patient’s medical history.
Veterans tend to be underrated by the VA. Receiving a rating that does not adequately represent their current level of functioning is always disappointing. By following the appeals process and submitting the necessary evidence as discussed above, should give the veteran the knowledge that they needs to receive the full benefit to which they are entitled.